What have you been up to since graduating from the Arts Administration program?
After graduating from UC, I worked in California for six years at the American Musical Theatre of San Jose as their development director. From there, I was recruited to work at World Wildlife Fund in Washington, DC. I missed the arts very much and began looking for other opportunities, which led to working in the public affairs office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon) in Washington, DC. Although I enjoyed the work, I figured my arts administration days were behind me because I’d been away for too long.
When I received a promotion to work as the temple recorder at the Washington D.C. Temple (locals will recognize the Mormon temple’s castle-like architecture towering over the Beltway in Kensington, Maryland), I soon discovered that the work was very similar to everything I had wanted to do in the arts. A Mormon temple is led by a temple president, who is a volunteer member of our lay clergy. The recorder is a staff position that reports to the president and oversees all of the daily operations.
Last year, the Church opened a new temple in Philadelphia and I was transferred here to help open it.
How did UC’s Arts Administration program affect your career path?
I think when seasoned professionals interview young graduates for employment, they’re looking for someone who has professional judgment; who can connect appropriately with artists, board members, and patrons; and who has relevant experience. They want someone who knows “when to step up, and when to stand back,” as a personal mentor once counseled. My time at UC, including several professional internships, helped provide relevant experience that was of interest to employers, and established some foundational work habits, especially how to navigate the competing interests of multiple constituencies — something I’ve had to deal with everywhere I’ve worked.
Also, I met my wife, Michelle, at CCM. She was getting her masters in bass performance at the time, and currently plays with the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, so that affected my life, too, in a wonderful way.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
I’m hoping I can stay exactly where I am for at least that long.
What makes you excited to go to work?
We all dream of working for organizations that we engage with in a personally meaningful way. The temple is that for me, and our overall mission is one that provides a lot of personal satisfaction. However, on a day-to-day basis, I am most happy when a patron or volunteer has a problem that I can help solve. They are often emotionally invested in the solution, and when they find it, I have seen people weep out of excitement and gratitude. That helps me know that what I am doing is important to them. It may not be as “glamorous” as my days in the theatre, but the rewards are definitely there.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I was at the Washington, DC Temple, we served tens of thousands of patrons from as far away as Pittsburgh to the north and Roanoke, Virginia, to the south, plus guests from around the world. We had thousands of seasoned volunteers who knew their assignments, and it was a very polished operation. However, opening a new temple in Philadelphia has been the biggest joy. Working with hundreds of volunteers, most of whom had no idea what to do the first few months after opening, seeing them take ownership of their assignments and seeing them come to understand what their service means to patrons, is what has made me happiest in my work.
Any other exciting news?
Philadelphia is a fantastic theatre town! I see as much as I can. I love it here and would love to connect with any arts admin grads in the area.